Can I sue for pain and suffering damages under Michigan workers compensation?

Workers comp does not allow for the recovery of pain and suffering damages, but there are benefits that you can pursue

Unfortunately, Michigan workers comp law does not allow an injured worker to sue for pain and suffering damages. But there are other options. Below we’ve provided some information to help you understand what benefits you can pursue and how.

To speak with a work comp attorney today, call us at (855) 221-2667, or you can fill out our consultation form. The call is free and the advice is free.

Q. What are pain and suffering damages?
In a pain and suffering lawsuit, an injury victim sues the person or business who caused his or her injury for pain and suffering damages. Pain and suffering damages are monetary damages paid to an injury victim for the “pain and suffering” he or she endured as a result of negligence.

The elements of pain and suffering include:

  • physical pain and suffering
  • mental anguish
  • shock or fright
  • loss of social pleasure
  • humiliation, mortification or embarrassment.

Q. Can I receive pain and suffering damages under work comp?
A. In Michigan, your exclusive remedy against your employer is workers compensation. This means that you cannot seek pain and suffering damages under the Michigan workers comp law.

Workers compensation provides all of your medical care, lost wages and attendant care. Here’s more information on exactly what workers compensation pays if you win your case.

The reason you cannot collect pain and suffering damages under workers compensation is because the Michigan law is a compromise between employer and employee interests. Workers cannot sue in civil court (thus, no pain and suffering damages) because they have “no-fault” workers comp benefits. In other words, you do not have to prove that your employer did anything wrong to receive workers compensation benefits.

Q. Are there any other ways I can purse pain and suffering, beside work comp?
A. Yes. You can pursue a separate cause of action against any other person or business responsible for your injury.

These cases usually arise when you are injured by a defective machine or you are involved in an auto accident that is not your fault. You can recover any damages that would be allowed in a traditional tort (wrongful act) action, including pain and suffering.

Q. Will receiving pain and suffering damages affect my work comp case?
A. Yes. Any compensation received for pain and suffering — after deducting a proportionate share of costs and attorney fees — will first reimburse your employer or its insurance company for workers comp benefits that were previously paid.

The balance of the recovery will be paid directly to you and treated as an advance payment of any future workers compensation benefits.

Your future wage loss benefits under Michigan workers comp will not be stopped. However, they will be reduced based upon a complicated formula. Usually, this reduction will be approximately 50 percent of your weekly benefits. While this sounds unfair, the law contends that you will have received additional compensation from the person or business who actually caused your injury.

Medical and vocational rehabilitation benefits under workers compensation will continue to be paid, regardless of how much you recover from the at-fault party. This holds true for as long as you need treatment.

Q. What if I was in a work-related auto accident?
A. Special rules apply when you are injured in a work-related auto accident. You can recover pain and suffering damages from the negligent driver. You will not have to pay workers compensation back for medical treatment or the first three years that you receive wage loss benefits.

Q. What if it seems my employer intended to hurt me?
A. Under some limited circumstances, you may be able to bring an intentional tort action against your employer. You must prove that your employer actually intended to hurt you. This is extremely difficult to prove and these cases are rarely filed. Should you be successful, you can recover additional damages outside of workers compensation.

Co-workers are also protected by the exclusive remedy provision just like your employer. You cannot sue a co-worker unless you can show that he or she intended to hurt you.

Q. Should I settle my work comp case?
A. Never try to settle a workers compensation case without speaking with an experienced work comp attorney, because you could unknowingly be giving up important legal rights.

Many times if you settle your workers compensation claim, you can negotiate with your employer or its insurance company to waive their statutory lien rights. This means that you can keep 100 percent of the money you recover from the person or business who caused your injury.

The goal should always be to maximize the amount of compensation that you receive so that you can avoid economic hardship and recover from your work injury. It is very important to talk to an experienced workers compensation lawyer who can help you recover all the compensation under the law.

Have questions about workers compensation damages?

Call us at (855) 221-2667, or fill out our free consultation form.

The best way to get an idea of what pain and suffering damages you can pursue is by speaking with one of our work comp attorneys.

We’ve been protecting people injured on the job for more than 35 years, and we can ensure you receive all of the benefits you’re entitled.

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